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Vitamin D and Diabetic Neuropathy

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Diabetic neuropathy, a complication of Type 2 diabetes, is the term used for a broad range of problems that can come from diabetes-related nerve damage. The most common form is "peripheral neuropathy". The symptoms usually affect the feet. You may have a "pins and needles" sensation, a burning pain or numbness. Actually the pain of neuropathy often gets off to a slow start. At first you may find a tingle in one of your toes, and as it works its way up your calves and legs, it becomes more painful.

According to the National Institute of Health in the United States, diabetic neuropathy or nerve damage:

  • affects 60 to 70 per cent of diabetics,
  • is particularly prevalent in those who have had diabetes for 25 years or more,
  • affects diabetics who have difficulty controlling their blood sugar,
  • are overweight,
  • have high blood pressure, or
  • who have too much fat in their blood.

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According to a study published in July 2011 in the journal Diabetic Medicine, having too little vitamin D could be another risk factor.

The Study: This study was undertaken at the Medical University of South Carolina in the United States. Adults over 40 years of age with diagnosed diabetes were recruited from the 2001 to 2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. These diabetics were questioned about whether they suffered from pain, numbness or tingling in their hands or feet,

A monofilament test was administered. The monofilament test consists of touching the patient's hands and feet to determine whether he or she can feel light touch.

Blood vitamin D levels were measured and compared with the degree of neuropathy present:

  • half the participants reported feeling pain or numbness in their hands or feet,
  • 37 per cent reported pain or tingling in their hands or feet, and
  • 38 per cent reported numbness in their hands or feet.

Eight per cent had significant loss of sensation as shown by the monofilament test.

Vitamin D deficiency: Those with vitamin D deficiency had more than twice the risk of having neuropathy compared to those with healthy levels of vitamin D. It was therefore concluded vitamin D deficiency was associated with symptoms of diabetic neuropathy.

Having your foot or hand "go to sleep" is an unpleasant sensation and makes it difficult to walk, or to use your hands. None of us would care to deal with that kind of sensation permanently. Making sure that we get adequate amounts of vitamin D through:

  • short periods of exposure to sunlight,
  • consuming foods such as fortified orange juice, soy milk, cereal or certain kinds of mushrooms, or
  • supplement form,

can possibly protect against diabetic neuropathy. Vitamin D also helps you absorb calcium, which postpones osteoporosis and helps to maintain your blood pressure. This powerful antioxidant also increases insulin sensitivity by up to 60 per cent... that's even better than the number one Type 2 diabetes drug used, metformin. The best form of vitamin D to take is vitamin D3.

Established ways of preventing diabetic neuropathy include regular exercise, following a sensible diet, keeping blood sugar and blood pressure under control, and normalizing weight. While lowering your blood sugar levels will eventually help reduce your pain and may even help to reverse severe damage that will be irreversible, this will take time.

Here is a tip to help ease the burning pain experienced by neuropathy: it doesn't happen overnight... it may take a couple of weeks to be fully effective...

  • you can buy products containing the ingredient capsaicin from your pharmacy.

Topical creams and patches containing capsaicin work by numbing nerve endings so you don't feel the pain.

Check out these related articles, too:

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To discover answers to questions you may be asking yourself about Type 2 Diabetes, click on this link... Natural Diabetes Treatments

Clicking on this link will help you to learn more about Type 2 Diabetes Solutions... Beverleigh Piepers RN... the Diabetes Detective.

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